Ports & Ships Maritime News

Oct 1, 2009
Author: Terry Hutson

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  • First View – SAFMARINE MERU

  • Cruise schedule for Africa region now available

  • SA records trade deficit in August

  • Nigeria port focus

  • Piracy update – US Navy warns of escalation as monsoon ends

  • Somalia: Puntland cracks down as potential migrants gather in Bosasso

  • Handle with Care - Access Freight takes up the challenge from Porsche

  • SkySails gets set to soar above Germany’s largest fishing trawler

  • News Clips – keeping it brief

  • Pic of the day – MAERSK ASSERTER


    First View – SAFMARINE MERU

    Maersk Line has recently redeployed two Safmarine container vessels into their weekly ‘ ‘Boomerang’ service between South East Asia, Australia and the Far East. These are the SAFMARINE MULANJE and the SAFMARINE MERU (50,686-gt, built 2006), the latter seen here arriving at Fremantle, Western Australia on 27 September 2009. Picture by Chris Gee

    Cruise schedule for Africa region now available

    MINERVA, returning to southern African waters this summer. Picture Terry Hutson

    A Cruise Schedule that lists nearly 300 cruise ship calls at ports along the African east and southern coasts and Indian Ocean Islands is now available HERE

    Covering all cruise ship calls for the summer season of 2009/2010, the winter of 2010 and into the early following summer the list reveals a steadily growing number of cruise line operators that are turning to the African continent as a cruise destination. The list excludes calls at West African ports and focuses on the region represented mainly by the Cruise Indian Ocean Association (CIOA).

    A total of at least 275 calls by cruise ships will be made at the region’s ports and islands between now and the end of winter 2010 – this includes the multiple calls at Durban and Port Louis involving cruise ships based at those ports but excludes other vessels such as the RMS St Helena which makes regular year-round calls at Cape Town, Luderitz, Walvis Bay, St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha.

    SA records trade deficit in August

    Pretoria, 30 September (BuaNews) - South Africa registered a trade deficit for the month of August, the South African Revenue Services (SARS) announced on Wednesday.

    The R1.98 billion deficit for August 2009 was mainly due to a decrease in exports of 9.18 percent and a decrease in imports of 3.76 percent. Exports for August of R40.38 billion and imports of R42.36 billion resulted in the deficit.

    The July to August change of 3.76 percent in the imports of goods reflected decreases mainly in vehicles, vessels and aircrafts, machinery and mechanical appliances as well as original equipment components.

    With regard to exports, the July to August change reflected decreases, mainly in mineral products, vegetable products, base metals and precious and semi precious stones, among others.

    In July, South Africa posted a record trade surplus of R0.4 billion, which had been a third consecutive surplus.

    Nigeria port focus

    A wildcat strike and protest by clearing and forwarding agents brought port operations at Tin Can Island Port (TCIP) to a halt on Tuesday. The C&F agents were reacting to what they called illegal charges introduced by the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS). Their objections related to arbitrary charges and certain illegal collections raised by Customs officials that have delayed the clearing of cargo from the port.

    According to the Daily Champion the matter involves the payment of bribes in order to have goods cleared – the report says that with the NCS replacing ‘releasing officers’ the amounts collected as bribes has been increased without warning. The agents say that when they complained to the Customs Area Controller he took no action, leaving them to take the matter into their own hands by way of a demonstration outside the terminal. A number of customs officers were allegedly molested during the demonstration.

    What is surprising about this report, if the facts are as presented, is that it is given as if bribery and corruption are a normal part of doing business in Nigeria, which required an extra dose of greed to bring a reaction. Sadly, Africa continues to carry a label of corruption among its officials and the Daily Champion report only serves to reinforce this view.


    Less disturbing news comes from the Apapa Container Terminal which is reporting that container dwell time has been reduced from as long as 32 days down to 19 days average. APM Terminals managing director Martin Dicks said that an awareness programme had borne fruit and he congratulated the shipping community in Nigeria for making this improvement in the clearance of containers. One of the advantages in taking delivery within 22 days is that the consignee pays less, he pointed out. Source Daily Champion


    News that 24 wrecks and derelicts lining the creeks and navigable waterways around Lagos has been welcomed with a leading environmentalist, Engineer Desmond Majekodunmi describing it as long overdue. Transport Minister Ibrahim Bio agreed and said some of the shipwrecks had been littering the waterways for up to 35 years. At least 25 wrecks are said to be lining the navigable areas of Port Harcourt and Warri as well and have also been identified by government for removal. Source Daily Champion


    Concern over poor usage of Nigeria’s eastern ports – Warri, Port Harcourt, Onne and Calabar, has again been highlighted. According to an article in the Daily Independent, cargo volumes at these ports remains low despite considerable investment by private terminal operators, who say that shipping lines avoid the ports because of fears of running aground in waters that have silted up because of a lack of dredging and port infrastructure. A one-day seminar was held this week at Port Harcourt to help draw attention to the matter.

    Piracy update – US Navy warns of escalation as monsoon ends

    The US Navy says that pirate activity off the coast of Somalia has recently increased with at least four attempted attacks on merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden since 19 September.

    Three of these unsuccessful attempts were made on 19 and 20 September with the fourth attempt being made last Saturday (26 September), involving the Panamanian-flagged vessel HANDY V. During this attack seven pirates were arrested by the Turkish warship TCG GEDIZ (F-495) which is deployed with the NATO Piracy Task Force.

    So far during 2009 a total of 146 pirate attacks have taken place involving Somali pirates, of which 28 have been successful.

    Naval leaders from 30 nations and international organisations met this week to discuss measures to coordinate and maximise the effectiveness of the naval forces engaged in anti-piracy work in the region.

    “By synchronising and de-conflicting our efforts, Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, EU, NATO and other international forces are making a difference,” said Commodore Tim Lowe, deputy commander, Combined Maritime Forces.

    Somalia: Puntland cracks down as potential migrants gather in Bosasso

    Nairobi, 30 September 2009 (IRIN) - The authorities of Somalia's self-declared autonomous region of Puntland have begun cracking down on would-be migrants and people smugglers, who have been using its ports to reach the Gulf States, a senior police officer told IRIN.

    He said thousands of Somalis and Ethiopians had gathered in Bosasso, the commercial capital, with the aim of attempting to cross the Gulf of Aden into Yemen.

    “We estimate there are between 3,000 and 5,000 migrants currently in and around Bosasso,” said Col Osman Hassan Awke, the Bari regional police chief.

    He said security units had taken over some of the beach ports used by smugglers to pick up migrants.

    “Marere beach [10km south of Bosasso], which was one of the main ports used by smugglers, is now a police post,” Awke said, adding that despite the police effort in Puntland to stem the flow of migrants, “they still continue. We shut down one or two known ports and then they find another one.”

    He said the police would continue to set up posts on “most of the important beaches”. However, he said the police did not have the means to stop the smuggling completely, without help from the international community.

    According to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, a total of 924 boats and more than 46,700 people have made the journey to Yemen from the Horn of Africa since January.

    “So far this year, 322 are known to have drowned or went missing at sea and are presumed dead,” Roberta Russo, spokeswoman for UNHCR Somalia, told IRIN on 28 September.

    A local journalist, who requested anonymity, told IRIN the region's authorities had in the past tried to stem the migrant flow without success.

    “They even tried to repatriate them to their homes in Ethiopia or southern Somalia but it did not work,” the journalist said.

    He said many migrants simply returned: “These are desperate people and no matter what, they will get on the boats if they want to.”

    Awke said the police had stopped repatriating migrants because “as soon as we send them they are back, and we don’t have the resources to keep sending them back.”

    He claimed aid agencies were not doing enough to help with the situation, adding that there was not even an official camp to host the migrants. “They are all over the place, which makes policing them that much more difficult.”

    However, Russo said: “In 2006 there was an attempt to create a camp for the migrants, but the initiative failed as, instead of protecting its inhabitants, the camp became a breeding ground for all kinds of violations.”

    In 2009, the agencies and authorities reconsidered the option of opening a camp but abandoned the idea.

    Russo added that UNHCR and its partners were distributing information on the dangers of crossing the Gulf of Aden and the options for migrants and asylum seekers.

    The journalist said Puntland had a long coastline and would be hard-pressed to police it. “They [the authorities] don’t have the resources to effectively patrol it.”

    Smugglers were reportedly charging each migrant US$150 to $200 for the trip to Yemen, said the journalist. “Many migrants will have to work for over a year to make that kind of money.”

    [This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

    Handle with Care - Access Freight takes up the challenge from Porsche

    Recently ACCESS Freight received a special consignment of Porsches that are travelling around the world to appear in car exhibitions.

    Access says it has significant experience in handling vehicles and was well prepared and able to adhere to the strict requirements that Porsche enforces.

    The vehicles were driven to the company’s Durban facility by appointed drivers from Porsche. The vehicles were received by Access and security staff that were put on high alert due to the value of the Porsches. Their cumulative estimated value is R40 million.

    A cordoned off area was used to prepare the vehicles for packing into the containers. The vehicles were driven onto pallets, strapped and secured, with a Customs official present to inspect each vehicle before loading into the containers.

    Precautions were taken to protect the vehicles from moisture damage while in the containers.

    “This is Access doing what we are good at; treating our client as KING”, says Access Freight Group CEO, Kevin Loudon.

    The containers left Germany some time ago and are now en route to New Zealand. Most of the Porsche models are not yet available in South Africa so it was a preview for the South African buyers.

    SkySails gets set to soar above Germany’s largest fishing trawler

    With climate protection increasingly gaining in importance in the fishing industry, Parlevliet & Van der Plas BV, one of Europe’s largest fishing companies, has taken a pioneering step with the purchase of the first towing kite wind propulsion system for operation on board of a fishing trawler.

    The company says its objective is to save on fuel and fishing operations by using the environmentally sound and climate-friendly propulsion system of the Hamburg-based manufacturer, SkySails.

    The pioneering venture which involves placing the innovative SkySails-System on board Germany’s largest fishing trawler, ROS-171 MAARTJE THEADORA, is being funded by the European Fisheries Fund and the German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

    News Clips – keeping it brief

    Interest in the two ships that were offered for sale by auction on Tuesday proved to be disappointing, with the Ro-Ro vehicle carrier DAEWOO FRONTIER being knocked down for US$3.9 million plus approximately another $400,000 for bunker fuel on board. This was well below the reserve price and the offer has been referred back to the Durban High Court for confirmation.

    The second ship on sale, the smaller car carrier TRUST DUBAI realised even less interest with the best offer being a mere $185,000. The ship had been valued by Galbraiths at $700,000 and with a reserve price set at 75% of this amount it should have required $525,000 to conclude the sale. Because of the lack of interest the auctioneer, Captain Roy Martin of Admiralty Sales stopped the sale which has been rescheduled for today (Thursday). The ship is described as being in very good condition.


    Trade between Angola and Argentina has increased by 400% in the past four years, says Argentina’s trade minister. He is quoted by Angolan news agency ANGOP as saying that Argentina is now exporting goods to the value of US$200 million a year while imports to the South American country from Angola are worth $50m annually.


    A R1.3 Billion deal in which the Middle Eastern logistics specialist Agility was to invest in South Africa’s troubled Super Group has fallen through, causing the South African logistics company shares to fall 11% earlier this week.


    Germany’s container line Hapag-Lloyd will receive an injection of €1.86 Billion from its owners in a rescue bid aimed at keeping the container carrier afloat. Without the injection it was being reported that Hapag-Lloyd would have run out of money to operate by November.


    APM Terminals, the terminal operating division of AP Moller has been named ‘Port Operator of the Year’ for 2009 at the annual Lloyd’s List Global Awards Dinner held in London. Judging was done by a panel of ten industry specialists who selected APM on the basis of the company’s ability to continue expanding its global terminal network in spite of the tough market conditions.


    Coal of Africa Limited says it is in discussion with Transnet Freight Rail with regards a public-private partnership on the Maputo rail corridor. The company which has a one million tonne a year export facility using the Matola coal terminal in Maputo wishes to match rail capacity to increased terminal capacity that it has negotiated with Grindrod, Matola’s terminal operator. This capacity could increase to three million tonnes annually by late 2010 and ultimately to 13mt a year. In terms of the partnership proposals Coal of Africa would pay for the additional rail wagons required to move the coal along the Maputo corridor.

    Pic of the day – MAERSK ASSERTER

    The large offshore tug MAERSK ASSERTER (6536-gt, built 2004) arrived in Cape Town harbour this week to undergo tank cleaning and general maintenance. Picture Aad Noorland

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